HUNDREDS of people lost their home in Huddersfield last year.
Government figures showed that 367 properties across Huddersfield were hit by repossession orders last year.
And estate agents in Huddersfield have reported a fall in the number of first-time buyers – as lenders take a tougher stance on mortgage deals following the global credit crisis.
But they said sales were being completed against a backdrop of falling house prices, with buyers increasingly able to drive a hard bargain.
The comments follow figures from the UK’s biggest mortgage lender, the Halifax, showing that house prices fell by 2.5% in March – the biggest monthly fall since September 1992 and the second largest drop ever.
In a separate report, the Council of Mortgage Lenders revealed that the number of mortgages taken out fell for the fourth month in a row during February to just 49,000 – as a string of lenders withdrew some mortgage products and announced an end to 100% loans.
This year, some 1.4m mortgages UK-wided will come to the end of their fixed rate periods and people will face paying an extra £200 on average to their monthly mortgage bill.
Alex McNeil, of Bramleys in Huddersfield, said: “We were expecting the market to be tough for the first six months of the year, but we now think it will be tough going for at least 12 months.
“The availability of mortgages is going to be a problem. First-time buyers are going to have to save some money or get assistance from their parents. There will be a shortage of first-time buyers for a while.
“There is an over-supply of flats, which are taking some selling and the price has come down a lot,” said Mr McNeil. “But two-bed terraced houses and three-bed semis in reasonable areas are still holding their value.
“We are also finding big differences within regions. While our Huddersfield, Mirfield and Heckmondwike offices are reporting sales levels down by 25 to 30%, our Halifax office has just had its best month since it opened 10 years ago.”
Mr McNeil said sellers expecting to achieve the prices of 18 months ago for their properties would struggle, adding: “Buyers are looking to drive a hard bargain.
“There are still people buying and selling and there is still activity. And there are still investors buying traditional terraced houses to rent out. Property is still seen as a better long-term investment than stocks and shares.”
Raymond Butterworth, of Boultons, said: “We are in transitional period of getting back to normal market conditions. Buyers will have to expect to find 10% of their mortgage – rather than 3 or 5% – and in some cases they are having to defer purchasing a house.”
Mr Butterworth said house prices had been declining since last August, adding: “There are further reductions in the pipeline waiting to come through.”
He said desirable properties in popular “leafy lane” locations could still command strong prices, but agreed: “We are in a buyer’s market. Buyers have a wider choice of property and they are looking at more properties before deciding to buy.
“Where property is coming to the market at the right price, sales will be agreed in one or two weeks.”